December 2015 – We spent one night pre-cruise and one night post-cruise on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Our flight was late, so we arrived after dark and took a taxi to our hotel, the Tres Palmas Inn. As with most of the Caribbean, the taxis are expensive. It cost around $25 for the two of us to travel just a few miles. Luckily, taxis are not needed frequently in the area; Old San Juan is a very walkable area.
The hotel was a clean and quaint inn with the sound of Coqui frogs serenading us from the garden outside. From the second level patio, the inn had a great view of the beach across the road.
After checking in, we walked about a mile and a half to Levis for dinner. We had read that it was less touristy and more of a place that locals go, so we figured the food would probably be better. We were actually the only Americans inside the restaurant. We were a little surprised since it really wasn’t that far from large hotels. My husband speaks some Spanish, enough to get his point across, but the workers seemed frustrated that we were not primarily Spanish-speaking. We were ignored for most of our visit and the last ones to get our food and check (actually had to chase someone down to get the check), long after other people who came in quite a bit after us. Having said that, the food was delicious and very reasonably priced. We had plates of rice with beans and shredded chicken. The portions were large and came to about $7 each. The service we received might have been a fluke, but I would hesitate to return due to it.
The next morning, we checked out the beach and walked down the road to a park. The park had a great view of the beach. After that, we took a taxi to the cruise port. Our cruise didn’t
leave until 11 PM, so we dropped off our bags, ate lunch onboard, and went back out to explore. Being our second visit to the San Juan, we wanted to do some things we didn’t get to do on the first visit. We walked the half mile to the Castillo San Cristobal and paid the entrance fee of $5/person. The fort is well preserved and has great views of the water and city. We spent a couple of hours exploring the fort and reading the notes about the history of it.
The grounds outside the fort are just as beautiful. We wandered for awhile around the city, taking in the sites and checking out some of the shops along the way.
Next, we headed to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, which is about a mile from the Castillo San Cristobal if walking in a straight path. The entrance fee at one fort also gets you into the other fort, so we didn’t have to pay twice.
The fort is huge. I was amazed by the size of it and the trails and pathways around it. We spent about three hours walking around and inside the fort. Even though it is a very popular activity among tourists, and even locals were in the fields flying kites, the place is so large that it never felt crowded. There are food vendors along the road outside the fort in case you get hungry or thirsty (it is quite humid and hot, even in December).
When we finally tore ourselves away from the fort, we decided to grab some food from a vendor for dinner. It was starting to get dark, and there were tons of vendors setup along the walkway near the port. We bought a couple of empanadas and ate them while watching checkers challenges at tables nearby. We passed some time doing some people-watching and then headed to the boat to make our check-in time. I was looking forward to our return to Puerto Rico in a week.